Friday, February 22, 2013

Connecting Android Phones without Carrier Networks

Emergency management personnel are a growing group mobile technology users. However, this group has some interesting hurdles to overcome, as the times when they need to use the technology often coincide with times of compromised technical infrastructure.  

While GeoJot+ allows users to collect data offline and is not dependent on functioning cell phone towers with sufficient bandwidth – cell phone connectivity definitely speeds the data analysis process. And certainly aids in many emergency response efforts.  

It is encouraging to see that there is a group of people out there focusing their energy on coming up with new solutions in the realm of connectivity. Check out this article from, Android phones are connecting without carrier networks. It highlights a new prototype backup network connecting Android phones through a mesh network established with the phones' Wi-Fi chips.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

With the onset of smartphones and tablets, the issue of Bring Your Own Device is rising to the top of some corporate technology discussions.  The term refers to policies allowing employees to bring their own devices and use those devices for work.  The term can also apply to students using devices they own at an educational institution.  

While there have been low levels of this conversation for years with laptops and cell phones, the issue has exploded with the recent proliferation of smartphones and tablets.  Those devices are truly the drivers of this debate.  The current concerns are focused on data, privacy, liability and implementation of formal policies.  

Once those logistical issues are resolved, many companies and organizations will quickly hit another wall of issues revolving around usability.  The usefulness of smartphones and tablets is largely driven by the apps created for those devices.  While there are business apps available on the iTunes and Google Play stores, the stores themselves are clearly focused on consumer apps. There is a definite lack of flexibility around the purchasing and managing of  apps for business.  

We hit these issues head on when we released the first version of our GeoJot app in 2011.  As a developer we had little control over volume pricing, there was one price on the store and it was the same price for everyone.  In addition, for the most part, employees had to download and pay for the app individually.  This created a logistical nightmare at many organizations.  The last issue, looming large for the BYOD debate, is that the apps purchased were tied to the hardware which might belong to the employee instead of the company which purchased the app for business use.  It was a mess.

When confronted with mobile app issues, some companies are simply walking away from third party apps and the app stores.  Even though there is commercially available functionality that meets their needs, companies are looking to build their own apps, spending tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to build, maintain and support a product they should have been able to purchase.  

At GeoSpatial Experts we spent much of our 2012 development time creating a new product that would meet these special needs of our business customers.  The new GeoJot+ was built to allow the customer to purchase not only the app, but a full solution that included the app as one component.  Additionally, customers are now able to make one corporate purchase to cover all their employees.  And the app is tied to the company, not to an individual employee or an individual device.  This is important if the company has allowed employees to BYOD, if there is seasonal staff, volunteers, or staff turnover.  It also simplifies the process when devices are damaged or lost.  An administrator can manage users from a dashboard easily transferring licenses between devices, even Apple and Android devices.  

While the focus of the BYOD conversation today revolves around logistics, the next round will likely be focused on functionality and usability.  The app stores will have to decide if they will remain solely focused on the consumer or if they will expand into the commercial market.  If they chose to expand to commercial applications, they must begin to provide the flexibility required for business use.  If they don’t provide that infrastructure, the business market will pass them by.    

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New Nikon GPS Cameras

2013 will be a big year for GPS in Nikon cameras. The company has announced that it will be releasing 3 new CoolPix GPS cameras, the AW110, the P520, and the S9500.

The AW110 is the replacement for the popular AW100. Priced about the same at $349.95, the ruggedized Nikon AW110 still has 16 mp resolution with 5x Zoom NIKKOR ED Glass Lens, 3.0" OLED Display, GPS, and compass, and now boasts Wi-Fi for instant data transfer. The camera can shoot pictures underwater up to a depth of 18 m (59 ft) and for 60 minutes. It is shockproof and can withstand air temperatures of -10 to +40°C (14 to 104°F ). The AW110 offers full HD 1080p videos and smooth slow motion sequences.

New to its GPS line this year is the Coolpix P520. At $449.95, the camera offers GPS and optional Wi-Fi but no compass. Users gain performance and zoom when they give up the ruggedization features with this D-SLR-inspired design with 3.2-inch Vari-angle LCD. The P520 is a comprehensive compact camera for zoom, image quality, and versatility with 18MP resolution and 42x optical zoom NIKKOR glass lens and full P, S, A, M exposure modes. Create pro-caliber photos and Full HD 1080p videos from long distances, even in low-light conditions.

Last but not least is the new Coolpix S9500. Capture distant images with a 22x wide-angle to telephoto NIKKOR glass zoom lens. This slim compact camera takes 18 MP photos and has superior low light performance. The S9500 has built in GPS and electronic compass. At $349.95 the camera also has Wi-Fi for instant data transfer.

Not new but still in the Nikon lineup is the CoolPix S800C. The company’s first venture into the Android platform. For more information about that, see our earlier post – GPS Android Cameras.

Monday, February 11, 2013

New Pentax GPS camera

With the start of the new year there are some new GPS cameras coming out on the market.  The Pentax WG-3 GPS camera is expected to be released next month.  It is the 15th generation of Pentax’s adventureproof line-up of point & shoot cameras.  In addition to the GPS which was present in the 2012 Pentax, the new WG-3 camera now has a compass which shows you the direction you are facing when you take photos. 

The new GPS camera offers an increasingly ruggedized body boasting improved waterproof depth rating to 45 feet, shockproof from drops of up to 6.6 feet, coldproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit and crushproof, withstanding up to 220 foot pounds of force.  The rugged design is enhanced by its folded optical zoom lens that reduces its vulnerability to moisture and dust while ensuring a compact size without the protrusion of a lens barrel. A texturized grip decreases the chances of dropping the camera. And the WG-3 GPS is compatible with the wireless Qi (inductive power standard) recharging system, which automatically recharges the built-in battery simply by placing the camera on a Qi-compatible wireless charger.  Eliminating the need to open and close the battery chamber cover, greatly reduces the risk of sand and dust being introduced into the camera body.

With 16mp resolution, the WG-3 GPS has 4X optical zoom lens with maximum aperture of F2.0 and 25mm wide-angle coverage.  The newly designed optical zoom lens offers a maximum aperture of F2.0 to capture bright, clear images with minimal noise, even under dimly lit underwater conditions.  The camera can also use optional lens adapter with wide-angle coverage to 20mm.  The sensor-shift Shake Reduction system assures crisp blur free images.  The camera has and extra-large, high-resolution, wide-frame 3.0 inch LCD monitor and Full HD movie recording capabilities.

Additionally, the WG-3’s category defining Digital Microscope mode and six LED lights surrounding the lens barrel enable focusing as close as one centimeter from the subject producing bright, shadow-free macro images.

For those of you who don’t know, Pentax is now part of Ricoh Corporation (manufacturer of the G700SE GPS camera).  Priced at $349.95 the new WG-3 GPS will be available in a choice of purple or green.  We expect to receive on in the next couple weeks for testing.